This blog is mostly professional, but may have some personal notes in it as well, as it affects my professional activities.

Its namesake stems from my PhD research into regional identities in the late eighteenth century in what is now southern Bavaria.

I blog about issues related to information literacy, access to library resources, the environment, and the Historical Geography of Rupertsland.

Some sources regarding his life and work.

Fischer, H. (1988) ‘Schön und vortrefflich’: die ‘Charte von Schwaben’: Ein kartengeschichtlich bedeutsames Werk zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: Beiträge zur Landeskunde: Regelmässige Beilage zum Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Juni 1988, 3:1–8.

Fischer, H. (1988) Die ‘Charte von Schwaben’ im Massstab 1:86,400: Erläuterungen, in the series: Reproduktionen alter Karten, Stuttgart.

Fischer, H. (1993) Die ‘Charte von Schwaben’ 1:86,400, Cartographica Helvetica 7 (1993) 1–10.Gradmann, J.J. (1802) Das gelehrte Schwaben: oder Lexicon der jetzt lebenden schwäbischen Schriftsteller, Ravensburg.

Günther, Siegmund (1922) Eine Kartierung Oberschwabens um die Wende des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts, Sitzungsberichte der mathematisch-physikalischen Klasse der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München, Jahrgang 1921 315–330, 317n.

Wolfart, P. (2008) Mapping the Early Modern State: the Work of Ignaz Ambros Amman, 1782–1812, Journal of Historical Geography, 34(1):1-23.

"Ignaz Ambros von Amman" in Wikipedia [short entry but cites Wolfart (2008).]

Indigenous Studies Portal News

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cloud music challenges individual choices

Amazon, this morning (March 29, 2011), just announced cloud music, ahead of rivals apple and google, and got me thinking about the implications of this, especially as it effects easy access to information.  My initial reaction was very postive, as somebody who really never grasped the post walkman (tape or cd) era of portable music.

I had every intention of making the leap and investing in an MP3 player when I was planning a long transatlantic excursion a few years back.  I was looking forward to not hauling my CD collection, something I had been doing for a while, usually in a way that scratched the disks, and left me with only a small subset of my favourite tunes.  However, I very quickly was put off, not only by the limited battery power, but more importantly by the possibility that in addition to an $80.00 investment, I'd probably have to a) buy a new computer to load the music, and b) spend the next 10 hours at least mixing or loading the device.  So I comforted myself with investing in a good headset, and thinking I could at least enjoy the music / muzak provided on board.  It had apparently been a while since I'd flown overseas, and didn't realize there no longer was any music, just television, and nothing that I'd enjoy watching.

So the announcement that I wouldn't have to transfer music to new / various devices seemed attractive, but upon further reflection, I'm very concerned. I can't argue with the convenience, now that many people own and use several devices that are capable of storing and playing music (or that the life span of any individual device is so short that you're seemingly forever transferring files). My concern is two-fold.

First there is the issue, which I've already had to wrestle with regarding safe and reliable storage on line of my reading material (i.e. refworks), regarding third party storage.

Second, there is a more important argument that is at the very heart of fair distribution, the increased dependence upon internet providers who in various jurisdiction are battling for the rights to run the show on a 'for-profit' model in a still largely unregulated environment.

In theory the music has been paid for once, and under the old model of ownership, it was mine to enjoy (with admittedly a few provisos: I couldn't broadcast it, charge for 'public concerts' etc.).  And there was something very liberating to be able to flop down in your own pad, crank your own tunes, or take a drive (if you must) roof down, open road partake in any other cliche images you can imagine.  Under the new model, we are more and more dependent on suitable internet access.  Being less technology burdened than many travellers, I'm not sure how good internet access is at 30 000 ft, or in a train or bus for that matter; but it sure was easier, to take a few tapes, cd, a player, headset and some batteries, and there was no one to blame but yourself, if you forget any of those pieces.  Moreover, as we've already seen in so many other circumstances, suitable internet access remains determined by population density, and demand for service, and ability for the larger community to provide infrastructure.  Where availability of music (and for that matter any kind of information) was once the privilege of individuals, and sometimes even proudly defended / protected, its mere enjoyment is being off-loaded to an entirely incompatible model, run by a third party with interests completely at odds with those of individual choice.  How ironic is that in a society that otherwise continues to pride itself on individual freedoms. (Of course that's another story).

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